Memorial of Saint Gregory the Great, pope
(Colossians 1:9-14; Luke 5:1-11)
St. Gregory is known as “the Great” because of his many accomplishments as pope. Of these he is particularly famous for his sending out missionaries to England and Germany. Especially in the latter place he is credited with facilitating the acceptance of Christianity by allowing the inculturation of the faith. The pagan people there were accustomed to worshipping outside, but Christians generally worship in churches. Gregory promoted the adoption of blessings of fields so that the new religion would not seem so strange to the Germans. Pagans had their host of deities which was, of course, incompatible with Christian practice. Gregory had missionaries use the saints as heavenly patrons for the people. Just as there was a god for silversmiths, there would be a patron saint for these workers.
In today’s gospel Jesus likewise promotes missionary activity. His sending Peter and companions back to the waters to fish prefigures their going forth to all nations. They will bring many to hope in eternal life once Jesus is crucified and risen from the dead.
The Church challenges all its members to consider themselves as missionaries. Its “new evangelization” is a call that we bring others to the faith. It is not a sending forth to distant shores but to our own families and associates. By lives demonstrating how love for God moves us to care for neighbor, we are to instill the longing for eternal life in Christ.